MP calls for Government to curb “disproportionate” prosecutions of British soldiers who served in Northern Ireland
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has urged the Government to halt the disproportionate targeting of former British soldiers for offences alleged to have taken place over four decades ago in Northern Ireland.
In a Commons debate last week (Monday 9 July), Mr Herbert supported an amendment tabled by Sir Michael Fallon, the former Defence Secretary, which aimed to prevent government money being used to pursue servicemen who had served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.
Concerns have been raised that the military has been disproportionately targeted by investigations. During the debate the Northern Ireland Secretary acknowledged that only one in ten killings during the Troubles were by the British military or law enforcement, yet nearly a third of the cases brought by the Police Service Northern Ireland legacy investigations unit have been against former soldiers.
Intervening on the Northern Ireland Secretary, Nick Herbert asked: “If the Government concedes that there is no moral equivalence between the actions of terrorists and the actions of the military, should not the application of the law also recognise that in some way?
“If this amendment is not possible, what other means might there be to ensure that brave members of the armed forces are not unnecessarily and wrongly pursued nearly half a century later?”
The Northern Ireland Secretary, Karen Bradley, agreed that the Government would redress the imbalance: “The status quo is simply not acceptable. We are consulting on how the Stormont House institutions would make that better, but I would welcome representations from all … Members in this Chamber to that consultation, so we can make sure we get this right.”
1. Photograph: Nick Herbert intervening in the Commons debate on Monday 9 July.
2. To read a full report of the debate see https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2018-07-09/debates/5ED51B28-46BC-4AA0-BDCD-EF66925D0854/NorthernIrelandBudget(No2)Bill3. To read Sir Michael Fallon’s proposed amendment which Nick sponsored see https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2017-2019/0238/Amend/nibudget_daily_cwh_0709.1-2.html